BERLIN (AP) – At least 41 schools in Berlin have reported that students or teachers have been infected with the coronavirus not even two weeks after schools in the German capital reopened.
The Berliner Zeitung daily released the figures on Friday and the city’s education authorities confirmed the figures to the Associated Press.
Hundreds of students and teachers are in quarantine, the newspaper reported. Primary schools, high schools and trade schools are all affected, the newspaper writes. There are 825 schools in Berlin.
The reopening of schools and the possible risks of virus clusters forming in educational institutions and then spreading beyond families and further into society has been a matter of great concern and is an issue that looms large. hotly debated in Germany.
Education in Germany is not in the hands of the federal government, but under the auspices of the 16 states of the country and therefore there are many different COVID-19 rules depending on each state, especially when it comes to to wear masks. While some states are still on summer vacation, others have been back to school for about two weeks.
Berlin was one of the first places in Germany to reopen its schools after the summer vacation. Children are required to wear masks in hallways, during breaks and when entering class, but they can remove masks once they are seated in their seats and the start of class. Some critics say the measures in Berlin are too relaxed and that students and teachers should also wear masks during lessons.
This is the case in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous in Germany, where around 2.5 million students returned to school within days of Berlin. No exact figure on the number of schools infected with the coronavirus was available in North Rhine-Westphalia, but several schools have also had to close classes there due to cases of COVID-19.
In general, Germany is determined not to fire schools on lockdown as it did in March, even if infection rates rise again. Schools have been ordered to send isolated students or classes at risk of exposure to quarantine, but the goal is to avoid shutting down entire schools.
The German government has also said keeping schools open is a top priority and more important than bringing fans back to stadiums or allowing large crowds to gather for concerts and other mass events.
The number of coronavirus cases in Germany has increased again since the end of July. The re-emergence of the virus in the country is prompted by travelers returning home from abroad and people gathering for social events.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized Thursday that there are too many different regulations in the country, saying “people just don’t understand” why they are allowed to do something in Berlin that could be banned in Bavaria. However, plans are underway to harmonize the various COVID-19 rules and propose regulations that apply across the country.
The German Center for Disease Control recorded 1,426 new cases on Friday. That was lower than the 1,707 cases on Thursday, which was the highest number of new daily infections since the end of April. At the height of the pandemic at the end of April, Germany had around 6,000 new cases every day.
At least 230,048 people have been infected with the virus in Germany, 9,260 have died, according to the Robert Koch Institute.
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